If you’re the victim of a ransomware attack, there are no guarantees that you can recover your stolen data. The best you can do is mitigate the effects of the attack and remove the ransomware from your device. The steps to recover from a ransomware attack include isolating your device, removing the ransomware, restoring your backed-up data and changing any compromised login credentials.
Continue reading to learn more about what ransomware is, how it is delivered, how to recover from ransomware attacks and how you can prevent ransomware from infecting your device.
What Is a Ransomware Attack?
A ransomware attack happens when a cybercriminal locks a victim’s data or device and promises to unlock it if the victim pays them money, also known as a ransom. Ransomware is a type of malware that prevents a user from accessing the data on their device until the ransom is paid. When ransomware infects a device, it prevents the user from accessing their data by encrypting their files or their entire device. The user will then receive a message to pay the ransom in exchange for the decryption key that will supposedly give them access to their data.
However, if the ransom is paid, the cybercriminal may not honor this exchange and there is no guarantee you will get your access or data back. Additionally, cybercriminals often sell the stolen data on the dark web, even after the ransom is paid. Paying the ransom can often lead to additional ransomware attacks since they know you’re willing to pay.
How Is Ransomware Delivered?
Cybercriminals use a variety of techniques to deliver ransomware to your device without your knowledge. Here are the common ways cybercriminals deliver ransomware.
Phishing attacks are a type of cyber attack that tricks users into revealing their personal information. Cybercriminals try to install ransomware onto a user’s device by sending them a message, typically by email or text, with the intent to click on a malicious attachment or link. Once the user clicks on the malicious attachment or link, the ransomware is installed onto the user’s device.
Malvertising – also known as malicious advertising – is when cybercriminals use advertisements to infect devices with malware. The cybercriminal injects ransomware into legitimate or spoofed advertisements that appear on high-traffic websites. The ad will try to get you to click on a link or download software, which will actually download ransomware onto your device.
Cybercriminals create fake websites that try to imitate legitimate websites. Some spoofed websites try to steal a user’s personal information such as their login credentials. Other spoofed websites try to install ransomware onto a user’s device. If a user lands on the spoofed website or downloads something from it, ransomware could be installed on the user’s device.
Exploit kits are a type of toolkit that cybercriminals use to attack the security vulnerabilities of a system or device to distribute malware. They try to make contact with a user through malicious ads, compromised websites or spoofed websites. When a user clicks on one of these links, they are redirected to the exploit kit’s landing page. Once on the landing page, the exploit kit looks for vulnerabilities within the user’s system to install ransomware.
Ransomware Recovery Plan
When it comes to recovering from a ransomware attack, there are no guarantees that you will get your stolen data back. However, you do need to contain and remove the malware as soon as possible. Here are the steps to recover from a ransomware attack.
Don’t pay the ransom
The most important thing to do when dealing with a ransomware attack is to not pay the ransom. You can’t trust cybercriminals as they may not fulfill their promise of decrypting your data after you pay the ransom. Instead, they may sell the data on the dark web or attack you again knowing you’re willing to pay the ransom.
Isolate the attack
Depending on the type of ransomware, you may have enough time to react and isolate the attack. You need to restart your infected device on safe mode and disconnect from the internet. By isolating the attack, you can contain the spread of the ransomware and limit the number of files it can encrypt. Disconnecting from the internet can also disrupt communication between the infected device and the cybercriminal.
Decrypt stolen data
Depending on the variant of ransomware used, some decryption tools can crack the encryption used on your stolen files. You can ask a cybersecurity professional to use a decryption tool to decrypt stolen files encrypted by specific ransomware strains. However, a decryption tool might not be able to recover all of the stolen files, if any at all.
Regardless of whether you were able to decrypt your stolen data, you need to remove the ransomware from your device. Ransomware can hide within your system such as in temporary files. You can use antivirus software to scan your device and identify any infected files. The antivirus software will then remove the ransomware from your device.
Locker ransomware is a type of ransomware that locks you out of your device and prevents you from using it. With locker ransomware, you won’t be able to access your antivirus software to remove the malware. In that case, you should restart your device in safe mode and perform a factory reset on your device. A factory reset would wipe your device clean of any data stored on it, including the malware.
Restore your backed-up data
As a general rule, you should be backing up your data regularly. In the event of a ransomware attack, backing up your data provides you with the opportunity to restore it. Once you remove the ransomware from your device, you would then restore the backed-up data from the cloud-based or external drive where you have it stored. This will ensure that you still have all of your data, even if it’s lost or destroyed while removing the ransomware.
Change any compromised passwords
If any of your passwords were compromised during the ransomware attack, you need to change them right away to prevent losing access to your online accounts and remove any unauthorized access to your accounts.
How To Prevent Ransomware
Due to the uncertainty of the success of recovering from ransomware attacks, the best way to protect your data is by preventing attacks from happening in the first place. You need to implement the following best practices to prevent falling victim to ransomware and mitigate the effects of future ransomware attacks.
Regularly back up your data
You may fall victim to malware that can infect your device and corrupt your files. Ransomware can lock your files and prevent you from accessing them. However, there are other reasons to regularly back up your data. For example, your data could be lost due to other unfortunate circumstances, such as hardware failure. You should regularly back up your data on cloud-based or external hard drives to ensure you always have access to it.
Learn how to spot social engineering attacks
The best way to avoid ransomware from infecting your device is by learning how to spot social engineering attacks. Social engineering is a psychological manipulation technique used to get people to reveal sensitive information. Social engineering attacks can include phishing scams and scareware. These types of attacks trick users into installing ransomware without their knowledge.
You need to be able to recognize these types of attacks to avoid them. You should avoid interacting with any unsolicited messages that urgently ask for your sensitive information and come with suspicious attachments or links.
Keep your systems up to date
Exploit kits take advantage of security vulnerabilities within a user’s device or applications. You should keep your software up to date in order to prevent exploit kits from delivering ransomware to your device. Software updates patch known security flaws and add new security features that will better protect your device.
Install antivirus software
Antivirus software is a program that detects, removes and prevents known malware from downloading onto your device. With antivirus software, you can prevent ransomware from installing on your device. If ransomware were to infect your device, you can use antivirus software to remove it from your device.
Practice good password hygiene
You should be practicing good password hygiene to protect your online accounts from ransomware.
Good password hygiene means using strong and unique passwords to protect each of your online accounts. A strong password is a unique and random combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters that is at least 16 characters long. It omits any personal information, sequential letters or numbers, as well as commonly used dictionary words.
If a ransomware attack occurs and your passwords are compromised, you should use a password manager to help you change them. A password manager is a tool that securely stores and manages your passwords and other types of personal information in an encrypted vault. Most password managers can identify any weak or compromised passwords and will assist you in updating them.
Enable MFA on your accounts
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is a security measure that requires you to provide additional verification. MFA adds an extra layer of security to your online accounts as it requires you to provide your login credentials and additional authentication to gain access to your accounts. You should enable MFA on your online accounts to protect your data from being stolen as a result of ransomware.
Use dark web monitoring
Dark web monitoring is a process in which a tool is used to scan the dark web to detect if any of your personal information has been found on it. In the event that a cybercriminal stole your data using ransomware and sold it on the dark web, you can use dark web monitoring to alert you if your login credentials were discovered and prompt you to change them immediately. This can prevent your online accounts from being compromised.
Stay Safe From Ransomware Attacks
Ransomware can be scary to deal with as it can be installed on your device without your knowledge and steal your data. You can recover from ransomware if you remove the malware from your device and restore your backed-up files. However, it is best to avoid ransomware attacks altogether.
A great way to prevent ransomware attacks is by using a password manager. With a password manager, you can securely store your passwords and other personal information inside an encrypted vault. A password manager protects your personal information from being stolen. You can also use a password manager to store your passwords and ensure your passwords are strong and unique. Some password managers come with dark web monitoring tools that help detect any compromised passwords found on the dark web and aid you in resetting them.
Keeper® Password Manager offers a zero-trust and zero-knowledge password management solution that ensures only you have access to your data. You can add additional features such as BreachWatch®, a dark web monitoring tool that alerts you of any breached passwords found on the dark web.
Sign up for a free trial to start protecting your personal information and avoid ransomware.